18 July 2014
It is with deep sadness that we report the death of Professor JoAnn Carmin, our valued colleague, collaborator and friend, on July 15, 2014 after an extended illness. She was 56 years old.
JoAnn was an Associate Professor at MIT in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and conducted research around the world on environmental governance, policy and most recently on climate adaptation at the local level. She was a leading scholar and top global expert, called upon for expertise by the World Bank, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global league of cities addressing climate change (ICLEI) and other major institutions. Most recently she was a lead co-author of an excellent chapter on adaptation for the American Sociological Association’s Task Force on Climate Change, forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
JoAnn earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees at Cornell University in management and organizational theory. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1999. She taught first at Virginia Tech, and then at MIT, where she rose to the rank of tenured associate professor. She also was Director of the Program on Environmental Governance and Sustainability in MIT’s Center for International Studies, and gave strong leadership to the department’s graduate programs.
From the beginning of her graduate studies JoAnn showed concern for the many ways in which vulnerable groups are most impacted by environmental burdens, and she spent much of her career studying community responses to environmental inequalities. Her work explored the strategies and tactics used by environmental NGOs and environmental justice activists so that marginalized groups could have more meaningful participation in decisions that impact their land and territories. She did not call herself a scholar activist, but she was very much one, caring deeply about environmental justice and giving voice to vulnerable populations in her many articles and books.
At MIT JoAnn became one of the early scholars to study the emerging responses of cities around the world to global climate change. At a time when both policy and academic discussions were centered almost exclusively on mitigating climate change by reducing carbon emissions, she took the risk of focusing on urban adaptation to climate change, one of the most important issues of the 21st century for cities around the world, whether or not mitigation efforts are successful. In just a few years she pioneered a new field, including surveys of municipal governments around the world as well as case study fieldwork on the initiatives of local governments on five continents. By the time of her death she was one of the world’s leading experts on urban policies for adapting to the growing risks of climate change. In 2011-2013 she was awarded the Abe Fellowship to study in Japan; she also was awarded visiting research fellowships at Yale, Duke, and the Prague University of Economics.
JoAnn published four books, most recently Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders: Local Perspectives on Global Injustices (with Julian Agyeman) and Green Activism in Post-Socialist Europe and the Former Soviet Union (with Adam Fagan), both published in 2011. She was immensely productive, she exuded competence, and she was an exacting scholar.
As important as her scholarly contributions was her spirit as a human being, as a colleague and as a mentor. She cared deeply about her students, and set demanding and uncompromising standards of excellence for them while inspiring them to meet them. JoAnn’s academic and policy achievements are all the more notable in that her path to academia was not direct. Born October 17, 1957, she had a full first career as a high level chef. JoAnn is survived by her sister, Cheryl Carmin, Ph.D., and by many close friends who became family over the course of her life and work and particularly during her most recent battle with cancer.
The MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning has set up a memorial website on which people can add comments and other remembrances about JoAnn, at <http://dusp.mit.edu/in-memoriam/professor-joann-carmin>. At her students’ initiative, the department also is establishing a memorial fund in her name to help support student research; Online donations can be made at: https://giving.mit.edu/givenow/update-gift.dyn
Recent Books, Journal Articles, and Book Chapters
JoAnn Carmin and David Dodman. Forthcoming. “Scientific Certainty and Uncertainty in Urban Climate Adaptation Planning.” In S. Moser and M. Boycott (eds.), Successful Adaptation: Linking Science and Practice in Managing Climate Change Impacts. London: Routledge.
JoAnn Carmin, Isabelle Anguelovski, and Debra Roberts. 2012. “Urban Climate Adaptation in the Global South: Planning in an Emerging Policy Domain.” Journal of Planning Education and Research 32(1): 18-32.
JoAnn Carmin, Debra Roberts, and Isabelle Anguelovski. 2012. “Preparing Cities for Climate Change: Early Lessons from Early Adaptors.” Pp. 470-501 in D. Hoornweg, M. Freire, M. J. Lee, P. Bhada-Tata, and B. Yuen (eds.), Cities and Climate Change: Responding to an Urgent Agenda, Volume 2. Washington, DC: World Bank.
JoAnn Carmin. 2012. “Global Climate Change: Urban Impacts and Responses.” Pp. 227-228 in G. Ritzer (ed.), Encyclopedia of Globalization. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Isabelle Anguelovski and JoAnn Carmin. 2011. “Something Borrowed, Everything New: Innovation and Institutionalization in Urban Climate Governance.” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 3(3): 169-175.
Thomas Rudel, Timmons Roberts, and JoAnn Carmin. 2011. “Political Economy of the Environment.” Annual Review of Sociology 37: 221-238.
JoAnn Carmin and Julian Agyeman (editors). 2011. Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders: Local Perspectives on Global Injustices. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Recent Professional Reports and Papers
JoAnn Carmin, David Dodman, and Eric Chu. Forthcoming. Learning from Urban Leaders: Lessons from the Bellagio Meeting on Adaptation to Climate Change. Forthcoming. Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
JoAnn Carmin, Nikhil, Nadkarni, and Christopher Rhie. 2012. Progress and Challenges in Urban Climate Adaptation Planning: Results of a Global Survey. Cambridge, MA: MIT.
David Dodman and JoAnn Carmin. 2011. “The Use and Limits of Climate Science in Urban Adaptation Planning.” London: IIED Briefing.
Patricia McCarney, Hilda Blanco, JoAnn Carmin, and Michelle Colley. 2011. “Cities and Climate Change: The Challenges for Governance.” Pp. 253-273 in C. Rosenzweig, W. D. Solecki, S. A. Hammer, and S. Mehotra (eds.), Climate Change and Cities: First Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
JoAnn Carmin, David Dodman, and Eric Chu. 2011. “Engaging Stakeholders in Urban Climate Adaptation: Early Lessons from Early Adapters.” UGEC Viewpoints 6: 8-10.